Jan 20 2022

Using Data to Improve Student and Faculty Retention in Higher Ed

Data visualization tools are helping institutions boost employee and student morale.

The past two academic years have seen transformational shifts in the ways that technology drives the delivery and business of education. From virtual lessons to digital platforms for IT support and personnel management, higher ed institutions are using technology to improve experiences for faculty, staff and students.

These changes have come amid major disruptions to daily life. For education leaders operating in this new environment, taking a nimble approach — backed by data and technology — has helped support faculty through this period of change.

Data analytics can help universities and colleges take full advantage of funding opportunities. This way, higher ed leaders can refocus on long-term strategic planning. It enables education leaders to implement solutions to core issues such as equitystudent success, and faculty engagement and satisfaction.

There has never been a better time to tackle these challenges. The American Rescue Plan Act designated $40 billion for colleges and universities through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. This academic year, higher ed institutions must build on the transformation of the past two years to improve education rather than returning to a pre-pandemic status quo.

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Applying Data to Support, Prepare and Retain Faculty

Data visualization capabilities can help higher ed institutions attract and retain talent. The University of Texas at Austin, for example, uses data analytics to inform its leaders about what a fair salary should be and how to make better financial and business decisions.

To further support their staff, UT Austin uses its analytics dashboards to make data-driven award nominations. This way, the university can make timely adjustments to ensure faculty are receiving the recognition they deserve for their work.

LEARN MORE: About how higher ed turns to data analytics to bolster student success.

Planning for the Future of Student Success

The benefits of data analytics extend beyond employee management. In fact, many universities and colleges are leveraging data to support student success. When Miami University in Ohio transitioned to a fully virtual model at the start of the pandemic, the institution used technology and data to help ensure its course offerings continued to meet accreditation standards and that they remained consistent from class to class.

The university connected data gathered from student surveys across various digital platforms to share a full picture of the situation with leadership and administrators. The university’s data officers say they will continue to use data analytics as students return to campus to help administrators gain a better understanding of student engagement and performance.

EXPLORE: How to effectively manage higher ed data.

Meanwhile, Indiana University is using data analytics to ensure course offerings are aligned with student demand. It allows them to plan ahead — from the time students are admitted — to project course availability. Similarly, Santa Barbara City College in California uses data analytics to better accommodate the schedules of part-time students and those who can only attend classes at night — after all, course availability affects graduation rates. By digging into existing data, these institutions are improving student experiences and making sure something as simple as scheduling does not stand in the way of academic success.

Higher ed institutions have made significant strides in using data to understand how students and faculty succeed, even in these challenging times. Moving forward, higher ed leaders should build on this progress by creating strategic plans — backed by data — to help university systems become future-ready.

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